I have never been the "hot girl." I was the last out of most of my friends to date in high school, the last of my friends to have sex, and when I was 26, even my mother called me a late bloomer. I didn’t usually see "sexy" and "myself" in the same sentence, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t be. Looking back at a year of changes, I figured what could one more adjustment hurt? What’s one more "f*ck it, let’s see what happens" moment for good ol’ insane 2017? I decided it was time to lay a few sexy thirst traps.
For the uninitiated, a thirst trap is simply an alluring photo posted to a social media account with the full intent of making the viewer feel attracted to you. It’s confident, it’s knowing, it’s thirsty. And I had never done it before.
A friend of mine who has reigned as the Thirst Queen of my Instagram feed for a few years had solid advice when I asked: put on some music that makes you feel sexy, check out a few popular poses that I wouldn’t normally attempt (she offered her own account for reference), and then — in her own words — "Do it. Post it. Thirst trap."
Taking the photos was easy enough, although I felt ridiculous — a combination that, as a part of the MySpace generation, I was not unfamiliar with. Despite the multiple tripods sitting in the corner of my room, I stacked a few wooden shelves on each other and propped my phone on a shampoo bottle. Somehow, the fact that I had put on specific music, dressed myself, and was having a photoshoot alone in my bathroom was fine, but using a real camera and tripod was "overproduced." Please don’t ask me about my pants-less logic.
Once I had a few different shots I felt good about, I decided to give it until the weekend to post — that way I could back out the next day if I needed to. But the next morning, after sneaking off to the bathroom at work to check that my photos didn’t actually contain some minotaur on accident, I got excited. I looked hot AF. I almost couldn’t believe it.
I approached my first risqué post with the same amount of apprehension, shame, and fear I’d had the first time I wrote publicly about having depression. It was vulnerable and honest, sure, but it was owning some big part of myself in a very public way and I felt like maybe I shouldn’t. Like, taking control of my own image in a sexy way didn’t belong to me. And if that was the case, who did it belong to?
Blocking my coworkers made things feel a little easier. After that woman was fired for doing a sexy photo shoot with her fiancé, I decided better safe than sorry.
Once I hit the "share" button, I got a rush of adrenaline followed immediately by mild disappointment. After hyping myself up the last two days, I figured the police would be slamming in my door demanding to know why I’d taken my pants off on the internet. But it took a solid 20 minutes before a stranger slid into my DMs.
And then my friends' reactions rolled in. And every single one of them was positive, ranging from text messages outside of the app telling me that I was "killing it" to fire emojis all over my comments. I let it settle in that, barring anything else over the next few days, at least my friends didn’t judge me for thirst-trapping.
Later, a guy I'd been texting on and off for a minute, and was supposed to meet for a date that weekend, messaged me to ask if he could see the contents of the photo in real life — as in, when we met up, could he see me with my pants off? My knee jerk reaction was to ask myself if I was now the type of girl who would just get asked to take her pants off before even meeting for a first date and to then spiral into an internal screaming monologue that consisted mainly of "WHAT HAVE I DONE?" Once I resurfaced from said spiral, I politely reminded him to not ask me to take my pants off until we’d met in person.
And then I got mad. Look, guys, I’m going to hop on this soap box for a minute and tell you that regardless of how much or little a woman is wearing on Instagram, meet her for a coffee before you start asking her to replay the show in real life. There’s a bigger conversation to be had about "asking for it" and how we’re programmed to believe that anything even remotely salacious or risqué is "inviting" unwarranted advances but this isn’t necessarily the moment for it.
When I posted the second photo, I got several messages from strangers in seconds. It was a Friday night and I’d utilized extra hashtags under my Thirst Queen's tutelage. All of them were more polite — "hey" or the heart emoji — than my former date's advances.
The next morning, I called home to check in with my mom like I do as regularly as I feel is healthy without being dependent. My mom was an artist and musician in the '70s — she married a painter, went camping in a Volkswagen van, and lived with a photographer roommate in college that she regularly helped with art assignments, sometimes while nude. So when my mother saw my thirst traps, she asked how I got that angle on my own. And then, because she’s my mom, she told me I was gorgeous and curvy, and that I should make sure to be careful with anyone who messages me after those photos, because they probably only want one thing.
And that was that.
I posted the final trap on Saturday night. It was full-body and the most of my face I’d allowed to show. I almost didn’t share it. But at that point I was riding my thirsty high and decided to go for it. Again, I got a few DMs. Again, my friends were wildly supportive. Finally, I got a few, "Um… what exactly are you doing?" texts. Not so much with judgment, but with a genuine surprise. Once I explained I was just trying something new, one friend told me he was glad to see my confidence up. I was, too.
I deleted a few of the photos once the weekend was over. It was fun to step into my sexy pants (or lack thereof) for a little bit, and I felt like a kick*ss hot friend when it was all said and done. But I was ready to go back to posting about comics and my dog. I left the first photo I took, because you know what they say about thick thighs. While my weekend of thirst-trapping hadn't saved my life necessarily, I felt better about myself than ever before — powerful, even — like I had unleashed some part of myself I’d kept tamped down for years and now it was relaxing in my back pocket until I needed it again.
Who knew a trap could set something loose.
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